Food

16 Scene-stealing spring sweets! Plus tips to make them patisserie-level good

Go big with these desserts that are perfect for Easter and all of your spring celebrations.

Go big with these desserts that are perfect for Easter and all of your spring celebrations

With Nowruz upon us, Easter around the corner and possibly many other spring feasts or occasions that you're on sweet-duty for (we'd never underestimate your popularity), you may be looking for a celebratory dessert to make.

And one you can actually pull off.

Even if you don't fancy yourself a baker, don't let the pressure to produce a dessert that'll make a splash have you dreading the whole thing. There are plenty of worthy treats that are simple to make, with some components that can be made ahead. Just remember, the most thoughtful desserts also speak to the season, making this a good time to showcase the flavours of citrus or even early fresh berries. Using bright, fruity flavours matches the optimism of the season, and hints at the abundance that will soon come.

To help, we've gathered 16 of our favourites that will "wow" and delight. You'll find them all below. But first, because we know you've watched every episode of The Great Canadian Baking Show and you're totally inspired, we've got some pro tips to help put that inspo into action so your desserts turn out right.

How to choose the right dessert

Think like a pastry chef. Head to the market first before choosing a recipe to see what fruits look fresh and ripe and let them steer you to your choice. And if you can't get ahold of good fruit yet, opt for a cream-based dessert instead.

Think outside the box. A batch of cookies or squares can be a good option for a large crowd. They're easy to grab, less of a commitment, and you don't have to stand there serving pieces to everyone.  

Read the recipe you're choosing at least three times. Some steps may require extra cooling or setting. Do a mental walk-through of the whole procedure to make sure you understand each instruction, and omit any recipes that just won't work with the amount of time you've got.

How to make it easy: Work ahead!

Get a head start on pastries and fillings. It's often easy to do; the pastry for pies and tarts can be made ahead and frozen, and recipes that use gelatin demand you let them sit ahead of time, and quite willingly overnight. (Remember gelatin is not vegetarian, so consider the dietary restrictions of those you're baking for.)

Make ahead any icings or sauces. Storing them properly in the fridge so no air gets at them and dries out their surface. To revive stiff icing, let it sit at room temperature for a couple hours and beat it with a hand-held mixer to transform it back to smooth.

Prep garnishes the day before too. Cut fruit and store it under damp paper towel in an airtight container in the fridge. Chocolate can be chipped or shredded into ribbons. All of these tasks tend to "eat up" more time than you think, but because people "eat with their eyes" first, it's this extra time you spend on garnishes that will earn you the extra points.

How to make sure your dessert looks party-ready

Strain custard fillings. This is most important for removing lumps from custard made by tempering eggs. The straining removes any accidentally-scrambled bits, or remnants of the chalazae (the egg's ropey string). Do it right away before the custard cools and sets.

Pick a great vessel. A tin-foil pie plate isn't nearly as celebrational as a colourful, ceramic pie plate. Make those details count, just remember to grab your favourite plate from the party.

Make the visible fruit shiny. Apply warmed apricot jam to strawberries and other fruit on the top of your dessert to make it glisten. It's a technique that's used in this Glazed Fruit Tart, but you can apply the same method to other cakes and pies.

Use a piping bag or cut the corner off a ziplock bag. Don't freehand thing when this small step will help you artfully guide that meringue or whipping cream into professional-looking peaks.

Chill brownies and squares first before cutting them. So they don't crumble or squish when sliced!

With these pro tips under your belt, you're ready to rock these recipes. Everything below screams spring and is a proper closing act for any fabulous spring feast.

Delicate French Macarons

Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts

Vanilla Bean CrèmeBrulée

Banana Cream Pie

Vanilla Bean Orange Blossom Panna Cotta

Joy McCarthy's Chocolate Chia Mousse

Traditional Glazed Fruit Tart

Lemon Tiramisu

Joy McCarthy's Triple Berry No-Bake Tart

Easter Pavlova

Ice Box Lemon Squares

Lidia Bastianich's Berry Tiramisu

Roselle's Banana Cream Pie Éclair

Mango Vanilla Mousse

(Credit: Nassima Rothacker)

Orange Chiffon Cake

Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Tart

Blood Orange Pound Cake